"Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal, have mercy on us."
And so Russell Timoshenko, age 23, was laid to rest, with 10,000 in attendance to grieve the loss. And I wonder how many of those mourners wondered, as they climbed back into their patrol cars for the long drive back to their home precincts or their home states or their homelands, if war had silently been declared on their kind.
So far this year, fourteen police officers have died in the line of duty-- nine of them have been shot to death, and two incidents, both in Florida, resulted in the deaths of two police officers from the same department. Safety in numbers is often just an illusion, as is sickeningly demonstrated in this photograph below.
Oakland, California. There is no safety in numbers-- not in the game of cops n' robbers. And I think about how many of the thousands of mourners in Oakland wondered, as they filed into this stadium in March of 2009, wondered if it was war that was being waged against them in the streets.
Cop-killing is nothing new in America. It's been around since 1792, when a sheriff's deputy in New York was attempting to effect and arrest, and the suspect shot him through a closed door. Statistically speaking, a law enforcement officer falls or is felled in this country every 52 hours. That's an average, and there is no law to this average. There are spates, and spikes, and ebbs and flows. Random or premeditated, there is no way to predict or be sure. They say that Christmas Day is an exceedingly dangerous day to be a police officer in America-- but, in 2010, only one police officer died on December the 25th. He had a heart attack while struggling with an intoxicated 16-year-old female. Nothing to do with Christmas-- just happened to be that call on that day that brought those two people together in Uvalde County, Texas.
I bristle just a little bit when I read stories run by the Associated Press or Reuters or whomever it is questioning whether or not a "war is being waged" on police officers in America because a few pathetic, cowardly motherfuckers have decided to get themselves out of whatever trouble they're in by cutting down a cop or two. As I've said before on this blog, there was only ever one "war against the police" in this country, and it was bloody, and it was real, and it was organized. The Black Liberation Army, a violent off-shoot of the Black Panthers waged a campaign to execute random police officers from New York to California and many places in between from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, resulting in the deaths of dozens of officers and the wounding/maiming of many more.
What is happening now in this country? It's deplorable. It's sad. But it is not war.
As human beings with an often imperfect grasp on what is happening around us, we fear what we do not understand, and that's understandable. To call a few cop-killings that just happen to be clustered together during the month of January "war" is a knee-jerk, it is irresponsible and sensational journalism (at best), and it is, to my way of thinking, disrespectful to the memory of the police officers who died. Call it a tragedy. Call it the shame of the nation. Call it sad, because it is. But don't call it war. Or, if you want to call it war, fine-- but then every police officer who is murdered by a felon trying to flee in the night was a war hero, because this war, if that's what it is, has been raging since 1792 and, as long as there are armed shitheads who don't want to go (usually back) to jail, then police officers are going to die.
And we will continue to say, numbed and hurt and lost, "Holy God, holy mighty, holy immortal, have mercy on us."Have mercy on us.